The regulated oscillation of protein expression is an essential mechanism of cell cycle control. The SCF class of E3 ubiquitin ligases is involved in this process by targeting cell cycle regulatory proteins for degradation by the proteasome, with the F-Box subunit of the SCF specifically recruiting a given substrate to the SCF core. We previously reported the cloning of NIPA (Nuclear Interaction Partner of ALK) in complex with constitutively active oncogenic fusions of ALK, which contributes to the development of lymphomas and sarcomas. Subsequently we characterized NIPA as a F-Box protein that defines an oscillating ubiquitin E3 ligase targeting nuclear cyclin B1 in interphase thus contributing to the timing of mitotic entry. Using a conditional knockout strategy we inactivated the gene encoding NIPA. NIPA-deficient animals are viable, but sterile due to a block of spermatogenesis. Moreover, our studies demonstrate that loss of NIPA has no substantive effect on the physiological cell cycle progression of primary MEFs indicating that this cell cycle checkpoint is inactive under optimal proliferation conditions. Interestingly, NIPA checkpoint control can be unmasked by oncogenic transformation by c-Myc. Here we show that transformed focus formation assays revealed highly significant differences in c-Myc-induced transformation in NIPA-deficient and wild-type MEFs. c-Myc transduction caused a pronounced upregulation of cyclin-B in NIPA-null MEFs, which was completely reversible by ectopic NIPA expression. The increased cyclin-B1 expression after c-Myc transduction in the absence of NIPA has considerable functional consequences for the cells: Focus formation ability of c-Myc-infected Nipa-/- MEFs was greatly reduced in comparison to wild-type MEFs (24.6% vs. 100%). Moreover, c-Myc expression caused 12.8% apoptotic subG1 cells in wild-type MEFs, whereas Nipa-/- MEFs were more affected by c-Myc-induced apoptosis (22.45%). Next, we sought to know, whether increased apoptosis in Nipa-deficient c-Myc transduced MEFs is dependent on a functional p53-Axis. Therefore, Nipa-wildtype and knockout MEFs were first infected with a retroviral Supernatant encoding for a p53Mir- and thereafter with the oncogene c-Myc. Interestingly the effect of Nipa knockout on c-Myc-mediated oncogenic transformation was totally abolished by the knock-down of p53. We observed no differences in focus formation ability or growth behaviour in Nipa-/- MEFs with inactivated p53 in comparison to wildtype cells, suggesting the importance of functional p53 in Nipa-induced cell death. Taken together, our data demonstrate that NIPA is required for efficient c-Myc transformation in a p53-dependent manner. Moreover, our results highlight the functional importance of the NIPA-p53 axis in cell cycle regulation and suggest that deregulation of the protein provides a substantial contribution during the process of tumorigenesis.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.